This Is How THC Affects Animals. And what to do if they get into your stash!

Yes, weed can get animals high. That doesn’t mean they like it.

With the way cannabis is becoming more and more common, consumers everywhere are starting to ask how weed affects animals. After all, you can now find CBD treats for cats and dogs at the local pet store. But what about THC? And how do animals react to marijuana?

It turns out, animals can get high on weed, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. That’s because the bodies of humans and those of animals are actually different. What might be a fun and relaxing activity for a human can be pretty terrifying for an animal. The effects can come on really strong for them, and they don’t have an awareness of what is happening to their body. Imagine being drugged against your will with something you don’t understand and never wanted. It probably wouldn’t be a very good experience. That’s how an animal would feel if intoxicated by marijuana.

The Endocannabinoid System

Humans and animals all have endocannabinoid systems in their bodies, with CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors interact with the cannabinoids in marijuana, producing that psychoactive high it’s so well-known for. But where those receptors are located and how they work differ between humans and animals. They respond differently to weed among mammalian species, and what might be okay for human consumption might not be okay for animals.

So if you’ve ever wondered, is marijuana toxic to animals? The answer is, in most cases — yes.  While many of the scientific studies about marijuana utilize rats and mice for testing, other animals are not so tolerant of THC. And even among mice and rats, those cannabinoid receptors differ. Each species has its own unique set, that respond differently to the effects of marijuana.

How Do Animals React to Marijuana?

How THC affects animals

There is a reason you don’t see medical marijuana for dogs anywhere. That’s because it’s toxic for them. And if you’re asking if marijuana is toxic for cats, the answer is yes — it’s not good for them either. Dogs and cats actually have more cannabinoid receptors than humans, so they are very sensitive to the effects of weed.

The high that comes from marijuana can actually be very traumatic for animals, and they most definitely don’t enjoy it. Along with the bad experience that THC gives them, it can also be very bad for their health. In dogs, marijuana can cause serious health problems along with a terrible sense of panic. It can lead to seizures, sedation, and in some cases even death. Weed can also create some serious medical problems for cats, too.

Do Horses Get Stoned?

Just like with dogs and cats, horses can also get stoned. They also do not like it — not at all. As with other animals, it can make them feel a strong sense of panic and they will likely be traumatized by the experience.

Marijuana is also toxic for horses, in that it can cause some serious health problems. If they receive a high dose of marijuana, it can actually be fatal. Plus, there really is no reason to get a horse high, so why do it? (Or any animal, for that matter.)

What to do if Your Pet is High

With the increased legalization of marijuana, calls to emergency veterinarians about weed ingestion are becoming more and more common. Pot brownies or gummies left out on a coffee table are easy pickings for a curious dog, and the effects are not good.

If your dog gets into your stash, you might notice some of the negative effects right away. Some of the symptoms include a stumbling gait, dribbling urine and seizures. Marijuana intoxication in an animal is a serious deal, and should be dealt with by a licensed veterinarian. 

That’s why you’ll want to get your pet medical help right away. The sooner, the better, because your veterinarian will be able to hydrate your pet and keep a close eye on them. The effects of marijuana intoxication can show up quickly or take a few hours. They can also last as long as a few days. Your veterinarian can help keep them safe, and make sure the situation doesn’t progress to something fatal.

So, keep your weed out of reach of any animals — whether they’re dogs, cats or horses. And if your pet has eaten cannabis edibles and you don’t live near a veterinary emergency facility, you can also contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center by calling 888-426-4435.

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